In one of the latest signs of the times, an increasing number of security clearance holders or those working in national security are having to create a new criteria around who they date – and that’s checking to ensure their new love interest doesn’t have a marijuana habit. The discussion boards at ClearanceJobs and popular forums like Reddit include the tales of the Washington modern missed connection. The topic generates questions on both sides of the equation. Some uncleared professionals are asking if the person they dated is blowing smoke up their arse with their claims that dating a marijuana-smoker is a no-go for their national security job. Some national security workers are asking if the government really cares about the drug habits of the person they date.

“Oddly enough it’s a thing, and it’s become more and more of a thing,” said Sean Bigley, security clearance attorney. “This is something we’ve seen come up with increasing frequency in frequent years.”

The issue has been the rapid rise in states – as well as the District of Columbia – legalizing marijuana use, while the federal laws and therefore security clearance policies remain unchanged. The drug involvement adjudicative guideline creates a security clearance eligibility issue for anyone associating with drug users in a ways that would give them contact with the use or purchase of the drug. Being in your boyfriend’s apartment where he regularly uses drugs could be seen as a security clearance issue.

Is there any way to keep the romance alive with a significant other who refuses to give up their drug habits? It’s untested waters so far, but one suggestion Bigley offers up is the idea of a marijuana pre-nup.

The idea is born out of the question that has come up for many security clearance applicants: “Is there an alternative way to salvage this potential marriage without them either cutting the habit entirely or breaking up,” said Bigley. “It’s not a silver bullet, but it’s potentially a way to mitigate the concerns.”

Obviously, the easier option would be to simply not date anyone who was a known drug user. But some applicants find themselves head over heels with someone whose marijuana habits may be born out of both recreational or medicinal motivations. In some cases, the clearance holder is left with an ultimatum, particularly if the person they’re dating is unfamiliar with both the federal laws and the requirements for national security workers.

Bigley says it’s a scenario he’s seen in his practice.

“[There’s] federal government policy on one hand and this significant other on the other hand who is adamant in their refusal to stop using,” said Bigley.

While still relatively new, Bigley noted the marijuana pre-nup for security clearance holders should include a few stipulations:

  1. The clearance holder can’t be around the marijuana while it’s being used.
  2. It shouldn’t be stored in your home.
  3. You shouldn’t be using marital funds to purchase it

The idea is to “create a wall between the clearance holder and the spouse or significant other who is using drugs so that the clearance holder can convincingly say that I would never be in a situation where the clearance holder was tempted to use because I’m not around it and my funds were not used to purchase it, et cetera,” said Bigley.



This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Although the information is believed to be accurate as of the publication date, no guarantee or warranty is offered or implied. Laws and government policies are subject to change, and the information provided herein may not provide a complete or current analysis of the topic or other pertinent considerations. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.